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Exploding shell caused blast at Hezbollah home

BASSEM MROUE | 10/13/09 09:06 PM | AP

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BEIRUT — A blast at a Hezbollah member's home in southern Lebanon was caused by an exploding shell and injured one person, Lebanon's army said Tuesday.

Monday night's explosion occurred in a garage, and Lebanese security officials said the building might have been used to store weapons – a violation of the U.N. resolution that ended the monthlong war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

The blast prompted President Shimon Peres of Israel to warn that Hezbollah and its growing arsenal are turning Lebanon into a "powder keg" and standing in the way of peace.

The U.N. resolution called for Hezbollah to be disarmed and for an international arms embargo against the militant group. Israel claims Hezbollah has tripled its arsenal since the war and now has tens of thousands of rockets.

Both Hezbollah and the Lebanese army said one person was wounded in the explosion in the village of Tayr Filsay, near the southern port city of Tyre. The army statement gave no details about the shell it said caused the blast.

Hezbollah acknowledged the home belonged to one of its members. Hezbollah legislator Hussein Haj Hassan said Israel was exaggerating the incident "for political interests."

The Israeli military released footage it said was shot by one of its drones in the area. It said the video shows Hezbollah members sealing off the explosion site, recovering dozens of rockets from the home and driving them away in two covered trucks.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gabriela Shalev wrote to the U.N. Security Council Tuesday to protest "another serious violation" of the U.N. resolution. She said the house belonged to Hezbollah operative Abdel Nasser Issa and Israel had "considerable reason" to believe it was being used as a Hezbollah arms storage facility.

Shalev noted that after the explosive, Hezbollah operatives sealed off the area "and according to reliable information used two trucks to remove evidence from the scene to a nearby village three kilometers" from Tayr Filsay.

Shalev called the explosion "another example that the Hezbollah terrorist organization possesses illegal weapons in Lebanon south of the Litani River" in violation of the 2006 Security Council resolution.

She accused unnamed members of Lebanon's armed forces of turning "a blind eye" to Hezbollah's activities.

"Israel holds the government of Lebanon responsible for any activity that takes place within its territory," she said.

Michael Williams, the U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon, told reporters in Beirut the mission was concerned about the explosion.

The Hezbollah-Israel war killed more than 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis.

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Associated Press Writers Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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